Select Committee on Foreign Affairs Third Report

Conclusions and recommendations

1.  We conclude that the accession of the states of the Western Balkans to the European Union is most desirable and in the interests of all parties, provided that they meet all the criteria for membership. We recommend that the Government continue its work to bring the region into the EU and engage fully with the other member states to ensure their support for the prospective members in the Western Balkans. (Paragraph 10)

2.  We conclude that the Stability and Association Process (SAp) took too constrained an approach to the Western Balkans, and welcome the Instrument for pre-Accession Assistance (IPA). We recommend that the Government set out in its response to this Report how the IPA will work. We also recommend that the Government urge the EU not to take a parsimonious approach towards the Western Balkans at the risk of creating a relatively impoverished region within its borders, and to consult widely with local governmental and non-governmental organisations in the disbursement of pre-accession funds in line with CARDS aims. (Paragraph 16)

3.  We conclude that the presence of the United States of America in the Western Balkans is a crucial ingredient for stability, especially in the fight against terrorism and organised crime. We recommend that the Government encourage the USA to maintain its prominent role in the Balkans, notwithstanding the many other challenges Washington faces. We also welcome the European Union's determination to shoulder a greater part of the burden, and conclude that co-operation between the EU and USA is essential for the maintenance of peace in the region; the United Kingdom has a special role to play in bringing US, EU and NATO personnel together at all levels. (Paragraph 22)

4.  We conclude that the Russian Federation has strong interests in the Western Balkans, in particular in the region's stability, and that the Government should encourage Moscow to contribute to the stabilisation and development of the region. However, we have concerns that the Russian Federation might approach the problem of Kosovo in an obstructionist manner. We recommend that the Government engage closely with its EU partners to ensure a positive and proactive role for Moscow in the Balkans, and stress the importance of stability and progress in the region to all interested parties, including the Russian Federation. (Paragraph 26)

5.  We conclude that Croatia has an important role in guiding other Western Balkan states on the path to the EU, and that such support will help Croatia's accession process as well as helping its neighbours. However, we also conclude that Croatia has yet to comply fully with the Hague Tribunal, and we recommend that the United Kingdom make clear to Croatia that insufficient effort to secure the arrest of Gotovina will retard its EU ambitions. (Paragraph 31)

6.  We conclude that many of their neighbours have much to offer the weaker states of the Western Balkans. We recommend that the Government emphasise to pre-accession states such as Bulgaria, Croatia, and Romania that effective and constructive engagement with their neighbours will reap dividends in the future and win friends in Brussels. We also conclude that regional co-operation is essential to the effective development of the Western Balkans. We recommend that the Government urge neighbouring states such as Albania, Bulgaria, Croatia, Greece, Hungary and Romania to increase regional co-operation, and support infrastructural schemes in the Balkans. (Paragraph 37)

7.  We conclude that the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) makes a most valuable contribution to the establishment of democratic values in the Western Balkans. However, we have concerns that the Russian Federation might undermine its work, and we recommend that the Government work closely with its EU and US partners to make clear to Moscow that the OSCE plays an essential role in stabilising the Balkans. (Paragraph 40)

8.  We conclude that Serbian democracy is young and fragile and that the international community, particularly the EU and the United Kingdom, must work to promote Serbian political and economic development. (Paragraph 53)

9.  We conclude that Serbia must fulfil its obligations to comply with the Hague Tribunal and deliver its war crimes indictees, and we urge the Government to maintain pressure on Serbia to fulfil its international obligations. (Paragraph 60)

10.  We conclude that defence reform and membership of NATO's Partnership for Peace are of the greatest importance for Serbia and Montenegro's integration into the Euro-Atlantic framework. We recommend that the Government stress that defence reform is a necessity for both countries and that Serbia cannot enter PfP until it complies with the Hague Tribunal. (Paragraph 66)

11.  We conclude that Belgrade's unwillingness to comply with the Hague Tribunal is one of a number of serious obstacles on the path to EU integration. We recommend that the international community offer incentives to Serbia to win support for the EU and to weaken the political stranglehold of the nationalist Radical party. We also recommend that the Government re-examine its visa policy to permit short visits to and educational opportunities in the United Kingdom for more people from Serbia and Montenegro. (Paragraph 71)

12.  We conclude that tensions in the Presevo Valley are still high and could precipitate local conflict, but we welcome the success of the Covic plan so far. We also welcome solid engagement by the international community, and recommend that the Government support the work of non-governmental organisations dedicated to reducing ethnic tensions and improving human rights in the Presevo Valley, Vojvodina and other border areas, and if necessary consider providing troops for peacekeeping purposes. (Paragraph 76)

13.  We conclude that the United Kingdom, alongside its EU partners, should increase its support for projects such as judicial reform, changes in tax regime, customs reform and other areas of technical assistance which contribute to Serbian development; the Government should also examine the possibility of reduced tariffs on agricultural exports because continued economic weakness is in no one's interests. We also welcome comments from our witnesses concerning the reduced threat of organised crime in Serbia, but stress that much work remains to be done. We recommend that the Government support initiatives to weaken the hold of organised criminal gangs. (Paragraph 81)

14.  We conclude that Serbia's integration into the Euro-Atlantic structures is desirable, but must not occur at the expense of Serbia's legal obligations to the Hague Tribunal. (Paragraph 82)

15.  We conclude that independence for Montenegro in 2006 is probable, and that it is unlikely to lead to serious violence or instability. However, we recommend that the Government strive to minimise the risks of conflict. We conclude that the international community, including the United Kingdom, should seek to ensure that the details of the referendum conform to international norms, should play a role in monitoring any referendum in Montenegro to ensure its fairness, and should accept the results of a free and fair poll. We also recommend that the Government work with the local authorities to tackle organised crime and help build administrative capacity in Montenegro, for instance by offering technical support to the government in Podgorica. (Paragraph 94)

16.  We conclude that the increasing possibility of Montenegro's independence adds to the case for a Post headed by a United Kingdom-based diplomat in Podgorica. (Paragraph 96)

17.  We conclude that continued action to resolve the tensions in Kosovo is essential if the international community is to establish effective state institutions and to reduce the poisonous atmosphere of ethnic hatred in Kosovo. (Paragraph 100)

18.  We conclude that reform of UNMIK is necessary to satisfy growing discontent with its performance, most particularly in the economic arena, and we support Ambassador Kai Eide's suggestion of a two stage reform. However, we recommend that the Government urge UNMIK not to rush a transfer of competences if the indigenous capacity for administration is not in place. (Paragraph 105)

19.  We conclude that Kai Eide's proposals to transfer competences to and broaden consultation with the Provisional Institutions of Self-Government are sensible and could reduce local resentment of the international community in general and UNMIK in particular. However, we also conclude that the recent events such as the selection of Ramush Haradinaj as Prime Minister and the Serb boycott of elections for the Kosovo Assembly have further polarised the political climate in Kosovo and could damage efforts to transfer responsibilities in a peaceable manner. We recommend that the Government work to strengthen moderate political forces in Kosovo, perhaps by fostering ties with political and civil society organisations in the United Kingdom and throughout Europe. (Paragraph 110)

20.  We conclude that decentralisation of government is an excellent way to increase trust in Kosovo's institutions. We recommend that the Government work to support Kai Eide's proposals, and provide support for schemes improving inter-communal relations at a low level such as the Gnijlane/Gjilan-Presevo-Kumanovo-Trgoviste (GPKT) project. We also recommend that the Government along with its EU partners maintain pressure on the Kosovo leadership to devolve government to the lowest level. (Paragraph 114)

21.  We conclude that the March riots revealed major deficiencies in the security arena. However, we commend the work of the international community since then to reduce the number of national caveats and the adoption of a system of reserves for KFOR, and we recommend that the Government continue its work to reduce the remaining caveats on troops. We also recommend that the Government encourage its NATO partners to prepare KFOR for any eventuality which may provoke further instability in Kosovo. (Paragraph 119)

22.  We conclude that the international community must do more to develop the Kosovo Protection Corps (KPC) into a modern, democratically accountable force with minority representation. We recommend that the Government call on its partners in NATO to turn the KPC into a force complying with NATO standards, and to provide both finance and personnel for training. (Paragraph 122)

23.  We conclude that policing is of the utmost importance for Kosovo's stability, for the region and for the EU, but that much work needs to be done before Kosovo can stand alone. The Government and its UN partners must increase their contribution to policing in Kosovo, by working towards a more coherent international policing effort; one means to do so might be for fewer states to focus on policing efforts, on the same line as building capacity in the customs service. We also commend the work of the OSCE police training school to establish a multi-ethnic police force, but stress that much needs doing, such as training local police officers in modern investigative techniques and ensuring Serb participation. (Paragraph 128)

24.  We conclude that the trafficking of women and girls both to and through Kosovo is a major problem, and that while the UNMIK initiatives are welcome, they do not go far enough. We recommend that the Government work with the EU, US and UN to establish a unified strategy on trafficking in women and girls, and that it encourage UNMIK and KFOR to treat any links to trafficked women and girls by its personnel with the utmost severity. We also recommend that the Government increase its contribution to schemes for victims of trafficking, such as offering financial support to refuges and NGOs in Kosovo dealing with the problem. (Paragraph 134)

25.  We conclude that the state of Kosovo's economy is a source of intense political discontent, and that its problems in part stem from doubts about Kosovo's final status. We also conclude that other serious problems, such as an ineffective judicial system, endemic corruption, a scarcity of skilled professionals and the reduction of remittances from Western Europe retard the growth of Kosovo's economy. We recommend that the Government promote EU and UN schemes to revitalise Kosovo's economy, offer expanded scholarship opportunities to Kosovans, and increase its contribution of personnel to train people in Pristina, in areas such as accounting and the policing of economic crime. (Paragraph 141)

26.  We conclude that the international community must work to resolve the issue of Kosovo's status as soon as possible, since deferring the decision will contribute to growing tensions and make the province increasingly unstable and hostile to the international community. (Paragraph 145)

27.  We endorse Kai Eide's proposals for combining standards and status, and agree that a re-evaluation of the standards process is essential. However, we recommend that the international community should not let the search for stability divert efforts from establishing minority rights in Kosovo. We recommend that the Government make clear to politicians in Kosovo that the fulfilment of human rights standards is a non-negotiable condition for progress towards status discussions, and that it urge its US and EU partners to do the same. (Paragraph 150)

28.  We conclude that the scheme for decentralisation put forward by Belgrade would result in an unacceptable transfer of population and could result in effective partition of Kosovo. We recommend that the Government press on its interlocutors in Serbia that their contributions must take into account the interests of the local population, as well as the views of Pristina and the international community. (Paragraph 155)

29.  We conclude that Kai Eide's proposal for increasing the role of the EU while the UN scales back its operations in Kosovo is a good way forward, provided the EU establishes a more cohesive policy towards Kosovo. We also conclude that such a process must include the United States, given its popularity amongst Albanians, and take great consideration of Kosovo Albanian and Serbian political sensibilities. We recommend that the Government urge its partners in Brussels to formulate a long term plan for expanding the EU's role in Kosovo, and in particular to outline how it intends to advance this work when it holds the Presidency of the EU in the latter half of this year. We also conclude that any resolution of the status issue must emerge from a dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina and we recommend that the Government work with its partners to establish a channel of communication between the two parties, perhaps by establishing a EU or UN accredited diplomat as an envoy between the two cities. (Paragraph 159)

30.  We conclude that success in Kosovo is crucial to stability in south eastern Europe, and that the international community must tread a delicate path between the claims of the various parties in order to resolve the status issue. We further conclude that it is unrealistic to expect the international community to continue to shoulder the responsibility of governing Kosovo indefinitely and we agree with Kai Eide that Kosovo is on the path to independence. We recommend that the Government acknowledge this reality and work with its international partners to bring about an independent Kosovo with full safeguards and protection of the rights of the Serb minority. (Paragraph 160)

31.  We conclude that the hard work of Lord Ashdown in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) is most commendable. However, we also conclude that plans to reduce the role of the High Representative are essential to the establishment of an effective non-dependent state in BiH and we have concerns about the impact of the Bonn Powers on the evolution of democracy in BiH. We recommend that the Government encourage its partners to speed the transfer of competencies to the BiH government at the same time as increasing EU involvement in BiH, in a manner conducive to the long term development of democratic standards. (Paragraph 171)

32.  We conclude that the international community should not impose a new constitutional structure from outside, but should nurture the state structures that could make constitutional reform easier. However, we also conclude that while the Dayton Agreement is a complex document, difficult to reform, some elements of the existing constitutional structure, such as the powers of the High Representative (HR), are more informal and flexible. We recommend that the Government work with its partners to ensure that the more informal elements of BiH's constitution are fully incorporated into the emerging state structures, in a democratic manner. (Paragraph 177)

33.  We conclude that nationalist politics is a natural aspect of the democratisation process in Bosnia and Herzgovina. However, we also conclude that the centralisation of decision-making has resulted in a failure to accept responsibility by BiH's politicians. We recommend that the Government and its EU partners do more to counteract nationalism by fostering civil society in BiH and to increase the stake of the Bosnian people in the political process by encouraging the integration of Bosnian politicians into the European mainstream, by fostering exchanges and links with international parliamentary institutions. We also conclude that BiH's politicians must work harder to re-establish trust between the communities. (Paragraph 182)

34.  We conclude that the launch of EUFOR is of the greatest importance for BiH and for the credibility of a European security and defence policy. We also conclude that the United Kingdom has a special responsibility to ensure that the transition from SFOR to EUFOR is smooth because of the large number of senior British personnel involved. We recommend that the Government work to clarify the different responsibilities of NATO and EUFOR in BiH, and with military contributors outside the EU. We also recommend that the Government urge its military partners to continue their work to reduce the number of national caveats amongst EUFOR troops. (Paragraph 189)

35.  We conclude that the policy of the High Representative to root out the support networks of the war criminals is sensible and a means to ensure thoroughgoing reform of BiH. However, we recommend that the Government seek to encourage co-operative elements in BiH, for instance by targeting development aid to those regions which have fulfilled the requirements of the ICTY and by encouraging the EU and its constituent states to do the same. (Paragraph 197)

36.  We conclude that BiH has made real progress on defence reform, although more needs doing; Sarajevo must comply with demands from the ICTY before acceding to PfP. We recommend that the Government continue its efforts alongside its NATO allies to support defence reform in BiH. We also conclude that an effective police service would act as a crucial prop for the Bosnian state and we recommend that the Government provide expertise and financial support to the efforts to establish a national system of policing, and to prepare for potential problems arising from any response to police reform. (Paragraph 204)

37.  We conclude that the EU is the ultimate destination for BiH, but that certain obstacles such as the question of compliance with the ICTY and Bosnia's constitutional structure slow progress. We conclude that BiH must enter the EU as a whole, and we recommend that the United Kingdom provide support in certain technical areas, as defined by "market share" discussions at the EU level, to speed the process of integration. (Paragraph 211)

38.  We conclude that Lord Ashdown's efforts to establish the rule of law in BiH are commendable, although democratic accountability remains a serious concern. We recommend that the Government stress to its EU partners the importance of establishing an effective rule of law throughout BiH, and that it take the lead with them in strengthening the physical infrastructure and personnel to this end, including the training for judges and legal employees. (Paragraph 215)

39.  We conclude that the economic development of BiH is central to the region's future stability and that external powers such as the United Kingdom and the EU can offer much in terms of aid. We recommend that the United Kingdom continue to support the reunification of the economy of Bosnia and Herzegovina through schemes such as the state wide system of VAT. We also recommend that the Government provide training in areas which would strengthen the economy, such as accounting and economic policing, second personnel with relevant technical expertise, and work with its EU partners to implement infrastructural projects which will integrate the BiH economy into the European mainstream. (Paragraph 218)

40.  We conclude that the international community must maintain its commitment to BiH, for fear that the good work to date be lost. Engagement by the United Kingdom and the EU with BiH is crucial for the success of the state building effort. We also conclude that the prominent role of British personnel in BiH makes success a particular concern and opportunity for the United Kingdom. However, we retain serious concerns about inter-ethnic relations, and the weakness of both democracy and the economy in Bosnia and Herzegovina. (Paragraph 219)

41.  We conclude that the international community must maintain its role in Macedonia, since its interventions to protect the Ohrid Framework Agreement have proved successful in ensuring stability. We recommend that the Government maintain its commitment to peace in Macedonia, continue to support the implementation of the remaining parts of the Ohrid Agreement, such as the flags and symbols issue, and contribute where it can to the final agreed delineation of the border between Macedonia and Kosovo. A lack of engagement by the international community could result in another crisis in Macedonia. (Paragraph 226)

42.  We conclude that the recognition of Macedonia's constitutional name by three of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council should encourage the United Kingdom to follow suit. We recommend that the United Kingdom work in unison with Germany, France and other EU partners to recognise Macedonia's constitutional name, and encourage the Greek Government by an act of statesmanship to do the same. (Paragraph 230)

43.  We conclude that Macedonia's membership of NATO is desirable but that rigorous standards for entry must apply; Skopje must fulfil all the terms of the Ohrid Framework Agreement. We recommend that the Government provide technical support on defence reform to Macedonia alongside its NATO partners, with a particular focus on minority representation in Macedonia's military institutions. (Paragraph 234)

44.  We conclude that the United Kingdom should support Macedonia's efforts to join the EU, provided the state complies with the necessary criteria. We recommend that the Government offer Macedonia technical support in areas as defined by 'market share' discussion at EU level. (Paragraph 238)

45.  We conclude that support for economic development in Macedonia, particularly in the area of legal reform, is essential for its long term stability. We recommend that the United Kingdom support Macedonia in the technical areas necessary to bring foreign direct investment into the state, for instance by funding advice from experts in investment law. (Paragraph 242)

46.  We conclude that while Macedonia's stability is not yet fully guaranteed, the continued willingness of its people to avert conflict is commendable. We also conclude that continued engagement is essential to maintain stability and that offering greater access to pre-accession funds might ease Macedonia's movement towards the EU; economic development would lessen the likelihood of future conflict and contribute to regional stability. (Paragraph 243)

47.  We conclude that the work of the British Council in the Balkans is essential and we commend the good work of its Belgrade office, for instance by bringing young people from across the region together in conferences. We urge the British Council to expand this work, and to increase educational opportunities in areas necessary for the effective development of the Balkans, such as those relating to good governance. (Paragraph 245)

48.  We conclude that the BBC World Service's contribution to broadcasting in the Balkans is most commendable. However, we regret the lack of Bosnian programming; we urge the BBC to expand its coverage to include Bosnia and Herzegovina. We also recommend that the BBC and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office work together with the governments in the region to improve the regulatory framework for the media, for instance by providing technical expertise to help Belgrade simplify the allocation of radio frequencies in Serbia. (Paragraph 247)

previous page contents next page

House of Commons home page Parliament home page House of Lords home page search page enquiries index

© Parliamentary copyright 2005
Prepared 23 February 2005